The Clash Chris Brazier - Essay

Chris Brazier

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Clash's first album is at last being released in the States. If you can legitimately refer to it as their first album, that is. Despite the identical cover … ["The Clash"] is a very different album from the one released over here in the summer of '77 as punk took hold and the rebellion seemed real.

Their debut was, as far as I'm concerned, the punk album—a classic, even if it's more dated (because it was so relevant at the time) than other contemporaneous classics such as, say, [Bruce Springsteen's] "Born To Run". It emerged at a time when everyone (well, everyone with some wit) was trying to understand what punk was saying, and when some of us, already excited by the youth and the music, were fervently hoping that the rebellion would turn out to have direction and meaning beyond the mere replacement of wrinkled superstars with acned ones.

"The Clash", then, was not only magnificent for its encapsulation of punk-as-rock (far rawer and faster than the Pistols' first records had been, angrier but less cynical, and thus a more accurate reflection of the initial spirit), but also for its determination to show the social background of the "insurrection". Here the rage is righteous and not just the inarticulate flailing mass of undirected masculine aggression that people read it as, that punk all too soon became.

This anger had clear origins and clear targets. "The Clash" was the response of the young victim to the callous failure of capitalism to create a fair, caring society.

In "Career Opportunities" the kid is offered the filthiest jobs with no other alternatives but the armed forces or crime (unless you include rock 'n' roll, the Clash's actual escape-route); in "Janie Jones" the boredom of the office job is deadly and the message "let them (i.e. employers, the Establishment) know exactly how you...

(The entire section is 776 words.)